18 June 2010 | Andy Allen
The UK government aims to save billions by axing 12 projects and suspending funding to another 12 that were given the go-ahead in the dying days of the Labour administration.
High-profile victims of the cuts include the £25 million Stonehenge Visitor Centre, a £450 million hospital in Hartlepool and a £80 million loan for Sheffield Forgemasters to build equipment for the nuclear industry.
The projects were ones the Treasury considered to be unaffordable, poor value for money, underfunded by other sources or did not reflect the government’s priorities.
According to Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, the 12 cancelled programmes would have cost nearly £2 billion over their lifetime, while the 12 suspended programmes would have cost £8.5 billion over their lifetime.
Alexander also said he had found another spending “black hole” where £9 billion of projects had been approved with no money in place to pay for them.
In this case the projects were dependent on departmental under-spending. As this was unlikely to happen £1 billion would also have to be cut from them, he added.
Alexander said: “I am determined to deal with this problem head-on and ensure we never see this kind of irresponsible financial planning in government again.”
* See the 24 June issue of SM for an analysis of procurement in the nuclear industry.